So, you have been thinking of getting a lift kit for your vehicle. But which one should you choose? Should you choose a suspension lift kit or a spacer lift kit, and what brand should you get?
To choose a lift kit, you will first need to understand your needs. For example, if you want to improve ground clearance, you will need a suspension lift, but if you just want to look cool, you can get a body lift. Look for affordability and good shocks. Look for a good brand and check reviews.
In this article, I will go over the different lift kits you might want to buy. I will also discuss different brands and how to choose the right lift kit – including the right sized lift kit – for your vehicle. Let us get started.
Understand Your Needs
Why would you want to buy a lift kit in the first place? It is important to know your reasons for buying a lift kit, which will help you decide which lift kit to buy. Different types of lift kits fit different purposes, and not all lift kits are for everyone. Here are some of the most common reasons people buy lift kits. Figure out which reason applies to you so you can decide which type of lit kit to buy.
Wanting to look cool is undoubtedly one of the most common reasons people buy lift kits, and there is nothing to be ashamed of if this is why you want to buy one. There is no denying it – a lift kit will make your truck look cool.
You will stand out on the road, and people will look at you – both people who own trucks and people who have no interest in trucks whatsoever. Perhaps you want to fit in with your local trucker community or show off to your friends – there is nothing wrong with that.
Increase Ground Clearance
You might want to get a lift kit for off-roading purposes. Certain kinds of lift kits (but not all of them) will give you more ground clearance. This extra ground clearance will help you clear obstacles easier – you will be able to go over rocks and small hills with ease. The types of lift kits that give you more ground clearance raise your suspension. A raised suspension is an improved suspension, and you will be able to handle tough terrain easier.
Strengthen Your Suspension
If your truck is old, the parts of your suspension might become loose and start to sag. If that is the case, you will lose ground clearance. You might be looking for a lift kit to strengthen your old, sagging shocks and suspension. If that is the case, you should be looking for a certain kind of kit, called an add-a-leaf. I will discuss this in more detail later.
See the Road Clearer
If your goal is to better view the road while driving, there is more than one type of lift kit you can use. If you are situated higher up than other cars, you will see what is going on around you and avoid obstacles that can cause accidents. Also, other drivers will notice you easier, as you will be more visible.
Being able to see you easier will also help them avoid accidents with you. For example, if a car passes the car behind you, they may not notice you until it is too late unless your truck is raised and visible from behind.
Install Larger Tires
You might simply want to install larger tires than your truck can currently handle. Larger tires come with many benefits. They are better for off-road as they have more traction due to the larger contact patch – the part of the tire that has contact with the ground at any given time. Although more than one kind of lift kit can allow for larger tires, certain types are better than others.
Level Your Truck
Some types of lift kits level your truck instead of raising it. Most trucks have the back part higher up than the front part by default. The thinking behind this is that drivers will load their truck’s back with cargo, which will weigh it down and cause it to sag. The truck will be level when the back is loaded due to the back part being an inch or two higher than the front part.
However, if you do not load your back part, you can get some extra ground clearance by raising the front part an inch or two to level it with the back part. Installing a leveling kit is incredibly easy and affordable to do.
Other Reasons for Installing a Lift Kit
Here are some other reasons you might want to install a lift kit:
- Make it easier to tow: Your truck will be easier to tow, as there will be more room for it to sag.
- Make it easier to work on: If you raise your truck’s underbody, you will have more room under the underbody when working on it.
- Allow more room for cargo: Since your truck will have more room to sag, you will be able to put more cargo on it.
Choose the Right Kind of Lift for Your Needs
Now that you know why you want to buy a lift kit, we will go over the four main types of lift kits. At the end of this section, we will provide a quick summary to understand which type of lift kit to get for each purpose mentioned above.
Suspension Lift Kit
The suspension lift kit is the most common type of lift kit, as it has the most benefits. A suspension lift kit raises your actual suspension off the ground. A suspension lift kit is the type of lift kit you want if you are looking to increase the ground clearance your truck has and improve its suspension. In addition to giving you more ground clearance, it will make your truck look cooler, give you more visibility, and allow for more sag.
The only downside of this type of lift kit is that they are the most expensive and the most difficult to install. They are the most expensive because they contain more parts, as they will be modifying the suspension of your vehicle. For the same reason, they are more difficult to install.
Many suspension lift kits require you to do some welding and cutting. You might need to set aside half a day, at minimum, to install it, and you may even need to ask a professional for help if you can’t do it yourself.
Body/Spacer Lift Kits
The second most common type of lift kit is the body lift kit, which is often referred to as a spacer lift kit since it adds space between the body of your truck and the suspension or frame. The suspension of your vehicle is not altered when you install this lift kit. Instead, you will be raising the body of your vehicle a few inches above the frame.
This type of lift kit is cheaper. It is also much easier to install, as you most always will not need to do any cutting or welding. A body lift kit gives you some benefits. For example, it makes your truck look cool, and it gives you better visibility of the road. However, it does not improve your suspension or ride quality.
You will be able to install larger tires with such a lift kit, but you will be more limited than if you would install a suspension lift kit. Suspension lift kits give you more room to play around with. You can raise your truck by as much as nine inches. However, with a body lift kit, you might be capped to just three to five inches of lift. You can only add so much space between the body and the frame of your vehicle.
You might want such a lift kit if you don’t care about increasing ground clearance, or you don’t want to mess around with the factory ride of your vehicle.
A leveling kit does what I talked about earlier: It raises the front of your vehicle by an inch or two to level it with the back part of your vehicle. Raising the front of your truck will give you a little extra ground clearance. It is a great compromise, as leveling kits are even cheaper than body lift kits. You can find many leveling kits for just $30-60. Besides, they are incredibly easy to install and do not contain too many parts.
An add-a-leaf lift kit is best if you are worried about your truck’s old springs sagging. If they can’t hold up your vehicle’s weight anymore, adding a leaf will strengthen its shocks and springs. It will not give you any real lift. However, if your truck was sagging by an inch or two, it will give you a bit more ground clearance to play around with.
Which Type of Lift Kit You Should Get: A Summary
Here’s a quick summary of which type of lift kit you should get depending on your situation and needs.
Get a suspension lift kit if you want to:
- Install very large tires
- Increase ground clearance
- Improve your suspension and ride quality
- Lift your truck by more than 3-5 inches
- Have the money, time, and expertise to install it
Get a body/spacer lift kit if you:
- Are on a budget
- Don’t have the time or expertise to install a suspension lift kit
- Don’t want to mess around with the factory ride
- Just want to increase visibility
- Just want to look cool
Get a leveling kit if you:
- Want your truck to look more aesthetic and even
- Want to add just an inch or two of ground clearance
- Your truck, like most, has a back part that is higher than the front
- Are counting pennies and looking for the cheapest option
Get an add-a-leaf if:
- Your truck is old, and the springs and shocks are worn and sagging
What to Consider When Choosing a Lift Kit
This section will talk about some qualities you should be looking for in a lift kit. Some lift kits are better than others, so it helps to know what to look for when deciding which one is good quality.
Shocks do not lift your vehicle, but you will need a good set of shocks if you want a great ride quality. Most lift kits will come with a pair of shocks, but if you are getting a very cheap kit, the shocks that come with the lift might be of poor quality. In either case, if you care about your shocks, you might want to consider buying them separately.
In a nutshell: A good pair of shocks that are properly valved is a must.
Make sure the lift kit you are buying has all the parts you will need. If the price is suspiciously low, check to make sure that it is not missing essential parts. Even if it has all of the essential, most basic parts that a lift kit should have, it might be missing some other parts you might need. Here are examples of some new parts you might need when buying a lift kit:
- Exhaust modifications
- Axle shims
- New driveshafts
Of course, things like U-bolts are non-negotiable; your lift kit MUST have them.
What is your budget? Your budget is a big factor to consider when buying a lift kit. Not all lift kits are good. Some will drastically change the ride quality of your truck for the worse. Some will only last a few months and then start to get worn out.
Don’t try to go too cheap, but you don’t have to buy a really expensive lift kit that costs well over $1,000 either. Those are the best lift kits – they will come with the highest quality parts and last a long time. Cheaper lift kits might provide fewer inches of lift. Alternatively, they may work with the stock shocks and not come with new shocks.
As mentioned, body lift kits are a lot cheaper than suspension lift kits. Leveling kits are even cheaper. Think about how much you can afford and think about hidden costs that might come up later. For example, if you don’t know how to install a lift kit, you might need to pay a professional to do it for you. Or, you might end up having to buy new parts that were not included in the lift kit.
Choose the Right Brand
There are many lift kit brands on the market. Some are better than others, and some are known for being cheap.
Rough Country is well known in the industry, and they make a wide range of lift kits for many kinds of vehicles. Their lift kits are mid-range: They are not too pricey, but they are also not excessively cheap. You can also consider other brands like MotoFab and TORCH, as mentioned above.
Here are some other really good lift kit brands that you should consider:
All of these are good. Daystar, like Rough Country, has mid-range lift kits.
Check Reviews on Amazon
The easiest and best way to get a good lift is to go to Amazon. On Amazon, you have the option of inputting your vehicle’s make, model, and year to see if the lift kit you are looking at will fit your vehicle. You can also filter the search results to only see lift kits that fit your vehicle.
Another benefit of using Amazon is that there is a wide range of lift kits there. You will not be limited to one brand. If you are going to a brand website, like the Rough Country website, you are only limited to that brand. Checking out a lot of brand websites will take a lot of time.
Amazon also has lift kits that are in the low range up to the high end. As such, regardless of your budget or how many inches of lift you are looking for, you will be able to find something on Amazon.
Finally, Amazon lets you assess the quality of a lift kit by checking the reviews. Look for a lift kit that has at least 30-50 reviews so you can be sure of the quality. The product should also have at least four stars, but it is even better if it has 4.5 stars. However, a product that only has a few reviews might not be good, even if the reviews are all five stars, as there are too few reviews to tell for sure.
Of course, you can find even cheaper lift kits on eBay or random websites. However, you can not trust all websites, so don’t buy from a website you never heard about before unless it is the company’s main website and not a third-party seller. Also, lift kits sold on eBay are often low-quality and won’t last for a long time. Reviews are also less common on eBay, and there is less oversight of the sellers on that platform.
Buy and Install Your Lift Kit
Once you have decided on a lift kit and read the reviews to make sure it is high-quality, it is time to complete your purchase. Once the lift kit ships to you, you will need to install it.
Installing a lift kit takes time, especially if you are installing a suspension lift kit. You will need at least a couple of hours for a body lift kit and an extra 2-4 hours for a suspension lift kit. If you are installing a suspension lift kit, you might have to do some cutting and welding. In either case, you will need some basic tools. Here are some things you might need to do when installing a lift kit:
- Remove the tires
- Use a jack to hoist your car
- Use a jack for your axles
- Install new parts
- Replace existing parts
Here is a good review of the installation process for lift kits. Here is a great video on how to install a lift kit the right way:
For suspension kit installation instructions, watch this video:
If you have no experience working with trucks, you might want to consider hiring a professional to do it for you, especially if it is a more complex suspension lift kit. You can also ask a friend to help you out. However, if you do go the DIY route, here is a good video with some “DIY secrets” that might help you:
Keep in mind that every lift kit will be different. Not all of them follow the same process outlined in the article or videos linked to above. That is why it is important to always read the instructions that come along with the lift kit. Some lift kits are easier to install, and some are harder, but all good lift kits will come with instructions.
What Lift Kit Should You Get?
Not everyone needs the same type of lift kit. This section will go over some things you might want to consider when in the market for a lift kit.
What Are Your Needs?
“What are my needs?” is the first thing you should ask yourself. What kind of driving do you do with your vehicle? Do you simply drive it to work every day? In that case, you might want a few inches of lift to look cool, but you don’t want to go too high. You probably don’t even need a suspension lift kit if that is what you use your truck for.
Will you be loading heavy cargo on the top of your vehicle? As mentioned in the pros and cons section, one of the disadvantages of using a lift kit is that it raises your center of gravity and makes your truck less stable. This problem is exacerbated if you load your truck with heavy cargo. As such, consider just a few inches of lift.
If you are going off-road and want to improve your suspension and increase your ground clearance, make sure you get a suspension lift kit, not a body lift kit.
What Lift Kit Should I Get For My Jeep?
For a Jeep that you will be using off-road, consider getting a high-quality suspension lift kit that will help you go over rocks and other obstacles. Rough Country is a good brand. Here are some lift kits you can get for a Jeep:
- Rough Country 3″ Lift Kit: This is for a Jeep Cherokee, 1984-2001.
- Rough Country 2.5″ Lift Kit: This is for 2007-2018 Jeep Wranglers.
- MotoFab Lift 3 inch Front 3 inch Rear Full Lift Kit with Shock Extenders: This is for 2007-2018 Jeep Wranglers JK. MotoFab is also a great brand.
What Lift Kit Should I Get For My Tacoma?
For a Tacoma, you can consider getting a Rough Country or a TORCH lift kit. Both are good options. For example, if you want a full lift kit, you can get this TORCH 3″ Full Lift Kit. It adds three inches of lift and fits Toyota Tacoma 4x4s (6-lug models), 2005-2020. If you are looking for a leveling kit, you can get this Rough Country 2″ Leveling Kit, which brings the front part of your Tacoma up by two inches.
What Lift Kit Should I Get for 35-Inch Tires?
Size matters when it comes to 35-inch tires. A lift kit that only adds one inch of lift will usually not be enough for 35-inch tires. Even two inches will usually not be enough, considering the average Jeep Wrangler JK. It is best to aim for 2.5 or 3 inches of lift. Depending on what kind of truck you have, you may be able to go up to 3.5 inches.
However, you may also need an extended driveshaft with such a high lift kit, which can end up costing a few hundred dollars extra.
Certainly, for 35-inch tires, do not go over 3.5 inches. Three inches is a good range to aim for.
Is a Lift Kit for You?
Is a lift kit the right choice for you? Here are some pros and cons to consider before buying a lift kit.
Pros of a Lift Kit
- Increases ground clearance (suspension lift kits)
- Improves visibility
- It makes it easier for people to see you
- Adds new shocks and springs
- Levels your truck (leveling kit)
- Looks cool
- Allows you to install larger tires
Cons of a Lift Kit
- Might void your warranty
- Decreases fuel efficiency, as your truck will have to use up more gas to move due to greater wind resistance
- It makes it harder for kids to get into the truck
- Body lift kits can leave a visible gap between the frame and the body (you can cover these with plates)
- Raises your truck’s center of gravity and makes it less stable; it will be more prone to tipping over during sharp turns and maneuvers
- Lift kits can be difficult to install
There are many brands and kinds of lift kits out there. The type of lift kit you should get will depend on your needs, your budget, what kind of truck you have, and so on. However, after reading this article, you should have a good idea of the kind of lift kit that is right for you.
- Auto Accessories Garage: How To Install a Lift Kit
- Teraflex: CHOOSING A LIFT FOR YOUR JEEP
- JK Forum: What size lift for 4-door JK with 35 inch tires?
- MNF4x4: What Is A Suspension Lift Kit And What Are The Advantages?
- 4 Wheel Parts: What To Know Before Lifting Your Ride
- Super Lift: Choosing Your Lift
- Four Wheeler: Tips For Buying Your First Lift Kit
- Dixie 4 Wheel Drive: Choosing The Right Lift Kit For Your Truck
- On All Cylinders: Suspension Lifts vs. Body Lifts: How to Choose the Right Lift Kit for Your Truck